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What are photochromic lenses and are they for you?

Monday, November 9, 2015 @ 10:11 PM
Author: Amit Mathur

 

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Most people with prescription eye glasses not only have one pair for indoors, but also require prescription sunglasses, so they can see when they are outside in the heavy sunlight. If you have two pairs of glasses, then you know the strain this puts on you in terms of having to carry around two pairs of glasses, as well as having to pay for two pairs of prescription glasses. And most of the insurance companies won’t cover all those costs, so it falls on you to pay for the difference.

There is a solution. A simple one at that. Getting photochromic lenses.

What are photochromic lenses?

Photochromic lenses are prescription lenses that automatically darken when they are suddenly exposed to sunlight or get back to being clear when you are indoors or when it gets darker.

Originally developed in the 1960s by the Corning company that used to manufacture Pyrex and Corningware, photochromic lenses are now more commonly known as transition lenses after the company (Transition Optical) that is the most well known in the market. But there are many different companies and brands that manufacture such lenses, and your optometrist can advise you on the best choice for the eyewear you select.

From a scientific standpoint, what sets these types of lenses apart is what they have that you actually can’t see. Extremely small molecules are part of the make-up of these lenses and when a large enough amount of UV rays hits the lens, these molecules react to the light. By structurally changing, the molecules are then better able to absorb a large amount of visible light and that is what causes them to darken. Conversely, once the light or UV rays are removed (or you go inside in a darker setting), the process is reversed and the molecules go back to their original shape and the lenses become transparent again.

Who needs photochromic lenses?

Your optician will give you the option of whether or not you would like these types of lenses. The choice is yours. But you should understand what their benefits are so you can make an informed decision as to whether you should get them or not. Here are a few points to consider.

  1. Cost: Yes there is an added cost to have a special coating put on your lenses. However consider the cost of having two pairs of prescription eyewear (sunglasses and regular glasses). Your insurance company might not cover the total cost for both pairs, so you might be out of pocket.
  2. Protection: Sure you might have a pair of sunglasses in your bag or purse that you can switch over to. But how often do you do that if you’re just going for a short walk to the corner store? The truth is, it takes very little time for UV rays to start affecting your eyes. By having your glasses automatically change to the appropriate level of protection, your eyes are literally always covered. It’s as simple as that.
  3. Convenience: Not to mention, if you don’t have to always carry two pairs of glasses with you, that quite literally takes a weight off. Imagine the extra space in your purse or bag. Not having to shuffle through to change from one pair to the other.
  4. Adaptability: These lens coatings are available for a variety of lens materials and adapt to work with different types of lenses including bifocal and progressive. So regardless of what you need, your covered.
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